Bush 'Hopeful' of Arms-Control Deal with Russia.(WORLD)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

Bush 'Hopeful' of Arms-Control Deal with Russia.(WORLD)


Byline: David R. Sands, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

There is a "high probability" that Russia and the United States will make a deal to reduce their offensive nuclear arsenals by the time President Bush travels to Moscow May 23, Russia Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said yesterday.

The Russian minister, who met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, gave one of the most upbeat assessments to date of the prospects for a deal as negotiators on both sides struggle to hammer out details on a pact that would cut both sides' nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds.

"We proceed on the premise that there is a very high probability" for an agreement, said Mr. Ivanov, talking to reporters just outside the Oval Office.

Both Mr. Powell and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer were more cautious, with Mr. Fleischer saying Mr. Bush is "hopeful" a breakthrough can occur.

Mr. Powell said that "remaining differences are there, and we are going to have to spend time and keep discussing them."

"If we are unable" to reach an agreement by the summit, then "the work will continue," Mr. Powell said.

The sides are discussing a major arms-control pact, as well as a more general declaration charting the future of U.S.-Russian strategic cooperation. State Department arms-control negotiator John Bolton is set to make at least one more trip to Moscow before Mr. Bush meets Russian President Vladimir Putin for a three-day summit in Moscow and St. Petersburg, U.S. officials said.

Mr. Powell and Mr. Ivanov discussed the outlines of the strategic declaration the two sides hope to issue. Although the talks ended nearly an hour earlier than scheduled, Mr. Powell said both sides were "very encouraged by the progress that we made today. …

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